Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 Presidential Election and also a Former Vice President of Nigeria, emphatically holds up the claim that the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s President is unlawful and unconstitutional.
Furthermore, he emphasized that Tinubu must be removed from office to make the polity of the country whole. In his final address, Abubakar stated this to support his petition seeking the cancellation of the win of Tinubu. He maintained that since Bola Ahmed Tinubu has personally admitted and it has also been confirmed by his witness that he gave up $460,000 to the American government over the offense of narcotics trafficking and money laundering has no right to contest for the Presidency of Nigeria.
The claim of Tinubu and his witness that Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave up the $460,000 money in a civil court action was dismissed byAbubakar. He argued that the definition and color of “civil action” being given to the criminal forfeiture by Tinubu were weightless and unjustified because a court of the United States of America before imposing the forfeiture fine on him acted on Tinubu’s indictment. Abubakar’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, endorsed the final address that read: (The following quotes are from The Punch - an Online Newspaper) “The forfeiture of $460,000 by the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) to the United States Government (a competent authority in the instant case) is neither contested nor disputed by any of the Respondents. The feeble response of the Respondents is that there was no arraignment or criminal conviction.
“The verified complaint for forfeiture and the entire records of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division dated September 15, 1993, indicated that the 2nd Respondent’s funds totaling $460,000, were seized as the funds which constitute proceeds of narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
“The 2nd Respondent’s (Tinubu’s) sole witness, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, admitted under cross-examination when shown the American court judgment that the proceedings affected the 2nd Respondent, as his name was reflected in the records of the court.
“It is pertinent to observe that the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) evaded denying the forfeiture of the said sum of $460,000 U.S Dollars to the United States Government for narcotics trafficking and money laundering activities but engaged in the semantic distinction between civil and criminal forfeiture, as well as the defense that the offense was committed over 10 years.
“It is submitted that forfeiture whether “civil” or “criminal” takes its source from the commission of a crime.
“The word “forfeiture” means – “the divestiture of property without compensation. The loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty.”
“It is submitted with respect that in all the above definitions, the common thread that runs through all categories of Forfeiture is the imputation of a crime, leading to the seizure of property or money.
“It cannot be argued therefore that there was no imputation of crime or a finding of a violation of Penal laws relating to proceeds of drug trafficking or/and money laundering for which punishment was imposed.
“The 2nd Respondent’s forfeiture proceedings fall squarely within the prohibition and disqualification list contained in Section 137(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution as the proceedings constitute:
“…a sentence of imprisonment or fine for any offense involving dishonesty or fraud (by whatever name called) OR for any other offense, imposed on him by any court or tribunal OR substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal, or.”
“No doubt and it is so submitted that the “United States DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION qualified as a court (of record) and the forfeiture qualified as a punishment for criminal behavior or “Criminal activity” of 2nd Respondent. The Petitioners assert that the words “any offense (by whatever name is called)” and “substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him” as used are obviously potent enough and truly disqualified the 2nd Respondent in his desire to contest the Presidential election.
Invoking Section 137 of the 1999 Constitution to cancel the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president on account of his narcotics crime and remove him as the president, Atiku Abubakar requested the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
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